Friday, July 24, 2009

Jail and the Gospel of John

Jail and the Gospel of John
Dcn Dale Matson
We recently received a call that the adult son of our close friends had attempted suicide in his jail cell. Fortunately he was discovered by his cell mate who contacted jail officials and after time in the hospital, it appears that there was no permanent injury. I will call him David but that is not his real name. He has been in jail for months now because of an incident that is partially related to his diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder known formerly as Manic Depression. His mother told me that there had been problems with him getting the proper medication while incarcerated.
When I heard that he had attempted suicide I wondered to myself what I could offer David that would make a difference to someone who had given up to the point of attempted suicide. I have known him for years and found him to be bright and engaging during better times but quite put off by religion and not sensing any spiritual needs. Would a Bible be suitable at this point? The thought came to me that if I had only one thing to give him it would be the Gospel of John. For me this Gospel has a special place since God called me back to faith and the church as I read it. Jesus Christ is God and God is Jesus Christ. What a connection this Gospel made for me. As with so many things good intentions I have considered, this also slipped into the closet of my mind.
The following day I was completing my Saturday “long run” with the plodding pace that requires me to jog alone. As I was finishing my run, another runner who I had never seen before crossed the Eaton Trail and offered me what looked like a large tract or pamphlet. He only had the one and told me that he had felt that God has directed him to give it to me. It was a pocket edition of the Gospel of John. I was somewhat surprised and told him that I had the Gospel of John in my head and heart and was a Deacon in the church. It was such a surprise that I had not made the connection yet. As he began to jog away, I said, “Wait, I do know someone that I want to get it to” and told him about David.
After finishing my run I couldn’t wait to clean up and call David’s mother and tell her about this. She came over and I told her the story and gave her the Gospel to pass on to David. She was moved by this and I believe it gave her a ray of hope for her son also. This experience has been difficult for the family. Since this time I have had an opportunity to reflect on this and realize in God’s grace and sovereignty, how much he is the God of the prodigal son. God wants desperately to have people meet His beloved Son. He knows that if they do meet Him, their lives can be redeemed and transformed into His image. I almost missed the connection that God had so miraculously put in front of me.


Anonymous said...

Dear Deacon Dale:

What a beautiful story of God's love for your friend (not) named David. God wants David to meet Him and God sent the runner to give you the Gospel of John to give to David. How perfect is God's love for His creation, US!!!!

Under His Grace, His Mercy, and His Love,

Deacon Francie

Anonymous said...

Beautiful example, Deacon Dale....
Thanks for sharing it. God is certainly the God of the prodigal son, and of every prodigal (one at a time)!

Susan (Richards)